Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Make-your-own fruit tart bar, with masquerade mascarpone

A make-it-yourself bar is one of my favorite ways to coax even the most reluctant kids to help out with preparing food and try new flavors. And in summer, it's an especially fun way to relax, laugh, and play at the table together. We've been gorging on summer fruit, and I craved something special. Like a pie or tart... but the boys and I all wanted to showcase different fruit. So we used all of them!

I baked tart shells and cut up fresh fruit. I had almost everything we wanted, except mascarpone. I waffled: Run out to the store? Push this back a day and make fresh mascarpone? I settled on a third way: Make some Masquerade Mascarpone out of light cream cheese and Greek yogurt, a more-than-decent stand-in for the real thing.

I set it all out on the table and the let the kids go to work. They built beautiful small-scale masterpieces and then happily devoured them.

It had been a while since we'd enjoyed a make-it-yourself treat. It was a good reminder that food is best enjoyed with good company and good fun. For more ideas, check out how we've done build-it-yourself bars for homemade pizza grilled cheese, fall fruit salad, mini fruit tartelettes, and chocolates

Make-Your-Own Fruit Tarts

tart shells (homemade or store-bought)
filling: mascarpone (you can substitute Masquerade Mascarpone, below, or make your own), creme fraiche, jam
fresh fruit, such as berries, mango, kiwi, grapes, pineapple, apple

Set out tart shells, filling options, and fruit and invite everyone build their perfect fruit tart.

Masquerade Mascarpone

Mascarpone is simple to make, but you need 24 hours’ lead time and tartaric acid, which admittedly is not a pantry staple. This quick alternative is a great stand-in — and much lighter than the real thing.

8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
4 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean

Combine all ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate a few hours, if possible, for deeper flavor. Store in the refrigerator for a week or two.

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